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Full text of "Poems of nature"

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CONTENTS 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTION . . xi 

[nature I 

INSPIRATION 3 

SIC VITA lO 

THE FISHER'S BOY I4 

THE ATLANTIDES 16 

THE AURORA OF GUIDO I9 

SYMPATHY 21 

FRIENDSHIP .... .... 26 

TRUE KINDNESS 3' 

TO THE MAIDEN IN THE EAST 32 

FREE LOVE ^1 

RUMOURS FROM AN ^OLIAN HARP . . . .39 

LINES 41 

STANZAS 43 



viii POEMS OF NATURE 

PAGE 

A RIVER SCENE 4^ 

RIVER SONG 49 

SOME TUMULTUOUS LITTLE RILL . . . . 50 

BOAT SONG 51 

TO MY BROTHER $2 

STANZAS 56 

THE INWARD MORNING 58 

GREECE 61 

THE FUNERAL BELL 62 

THE SUMMER RAIN 64 

MIST 68 

SMOKE 69 

HAZE .70 

THE MOON 71 

THE VIREO 72 

THE poet's delay TZ 

LINES 74 

[nature's CHILD 76 

THE FALL OF THE LEAF ^^ 

SMOKE IN WINTER 82 



CONTENTS ix 

PAGE 

WINTER MEMORIES 84 

STANZAS WRITTEN AT WALDEN . . . .86 

THE THAW 89 

JA WINTER SCENE 90 

THE CROW 93 

TO A STRAY FOWL 94 

MOUNTAINS 96 

THE RESPECTABLE FOLKS I03 

POVERTY 105 

CONSCIENCE 107 

PILGRIMS 1 10 

THE DEPARTURE 112 

INDEPENDENCE I16 

DING DONG 119 

MY PRAYER 121 



INTRODUCTION 

The fifty poems here brought together under the title 
^ Foems of Nature^ are perhaps two-thirds of those which 
Thoreau preserved. Many of them were printed by him, 
in whole or in part, among his early contributions to 
Emerson^ s Dial, or in his otvn two volumes, The Week 
and Walden, which were all that were issued in his life- 
time. Others were given to Mr. Sanborn for publication, 
by Sophia Thoreau, the year after her brother^ s death 
(several appeared in the Boston Commonwealth in 
1863); or have been furnished from time to tifne by 
Mr. Blake, his literary executor. 

Most of Thoreau^ s poems were composed early in his 
life, before his twenty-sixth year. ^Just nowj he wrote 
in the autumn of 1841, '/ am in the mid-sea of verses, 
and they actually rustle round me, as the leaves would 
round the head of Autumnus himself, should he thrust it 



xii INTRODUCTION 

up through some vales which I know ; but^ alas ! many 
of them are but crisped and yellow leaves like his^ I fear ^ 
and will deserve no better fate than to make mould for 
new harvests.^ After 1843 he seems to have written but 
few poems ^ and had destroyed perhaps as many as he had 
retained^ because they did not meet the exacting require- 
ments of his friend Emerson^ upon whose opinion at that 
time he placed great reliance. This loss was regretted by . 
Thoreau in after years^ whett the poetical habit had left 
him^ for he fancied that some of the verses were better 
than his friend had supposed. But Emerson^ who 
seldom changed his mind, adhered to his verdict, and 
while praising some of the poems highly, perhaps ex- 
travagantly, would admit but a small number of them to 
the slight selection which he appended to the posthumous 
edition of Thoreau' s Letters, edited by hifn in 1865; 
and even these were printed, in some instances, in an 
abbreviated and imperfect form} A few other poems ^ 

^ In the present selection a return has been made, wherever 
possible, from the emendations introduced by Thoreau's editors 
to the original text. 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

with some translations from the Greeks have lately been 
included by Thoreau's Boston publishers in their volume 
(?/■ Miscellanies {vol, x. of the Riverside Edition, 1894). 
But no collection so full as the present one has ever been 
offered to the public. 

It has not been attempted to make this a complete 
collection of Thoreau^s poems^ because, as has been well 
said, * many of them seem to be merely pendants to his 
prose discourse, dropped in as forcible epigrams where 
they are brief, and in other instances made ancillary to 
the idea just expressed, or to perpetuate a distinct con- 
ception that has some vital connection with the point 
from which it was poured forth. It is, therefore, almost 
an injustice to treat them separately at all.^ ^ After the 
discontinuance ^The Dial, Thoreau ceased to publish his 
verses as separate poems, but interpolated them, in the 
manner described, in his prose essays, where they form 
a sort of accompaniment to the thought, and from which 
it is in many cases impossible to detach them. That he 

1 Article on ' The Poetry of Thoreau,' by Joel Benton. Lippin- 
CQtt's Magazine, 1886, 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

himself set some value on them in this connection may 
be gathered fro?n a sentence in the last of his published 
letters^ in which he writes to a correspondent: '/ am 
pleased when you say that in The Week you like 
especially those little snatches of poetry interspersed 
through the book^ for these I suppose are the least 
attractive to most readers.^ 

Everything that concerns a great writer has its special 
interest; and Thoreau!s poetry^ whatever its intrinsic 
value may be, is full of personal significance ; in fact, as 
Emerson remarked, ^ his biography is in his verses* 
Thus, many of these poems will be found to throw light 
on certain passages of his life, * Inspiration^ for example, 
is the record of his souVs awakening to the new impulse 
of transcendentalism; the stanzas on '•Sympathy* per- 
haps contain in a thinly disguised form the story of his 
youthful love, and the sacrifice which he imposed on 
himself to avoid rivalry with his brother; the lines ^ To 
my Brother* refer to the sudden and tragic death of 
John Thoreau in 1842 / and ' The Departure ' is believed 
to be the poem in which Henry Thoreau, when leaving in 



INTRODUCTION xv 

1843 the home of Emerson^ where he had lived for two 
years^ took farewell of his friends. The numerous other 
allusions to the life and scenery of Concord^ with which 
Thoreatis own life was so closely blended, require no 
comfnent or explanation. 

Thoreau^s view of the poetic character^ as stated by hi?n 
in The Week, is illustrative of his own position. ^ A 
true poem,' he j^u^lu-^dhtrngmsh^dmLM^^^^^n^ by^a 
felicitous expression, or any thought it suggests, as by the 
atmosphere which surrounds it. There are two classes of 
men called poets. The one cultivates life, the other art : 
one seeks food for nutriment, the other for flavor ; one 
satisfies hunger, the other gratifies the palate.^ There 
can be~no doubt to which of these classes Thoreau him- 
self belongs. If metrical skill be insisted on as an indis- 
pensable condition of poetry, he can hardly be ranked 
among the poets ; nor, where this criterion was dominant, 
was it surprising that, as one of his contemporaries tells 
us^ with reference to his verses in The Dial, ^ an un- 
quenchable laughter, like that of the gods at Vulcan's 
^ John Weiss, in the Christian Examiner ^ 1865. 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

limpings we7it tip over his ragged and halting linesJ But 
in the appreciation of poetry there is a good deal more to 
be considered than this ; and^ as the same writer has 
remarked^ there is ' a frank and unpretending 7iohleness ' 
in many of Thoreau^s verses^ distifiguished as they are, at 
their best, by their ripe fulness of thought, quiet gravity of 
tone, and epigrammatic terseness of expression. The title 
of poet could hardly be withheld fro7n the author of 
such truly powerful pieces as * The Fall of the Leaf^ 
' Winter Memories^ '■Smoke in Winter^ or ''Inspira- 
tion.^ 

Nor should it be forgotten that Thoreau was always 
regarded as a poet by those who were associated with him. 

* Poet-Naturalist ' was the suggestive title which Ellery 
Channing applied to him; and Hawthorne remarked that 

* his thoughts seem to measure and attune themselves into 
spontaneous verse, as they rightfully may, since there is 
real poetry in them.^ Even Emerson^ s final estimate 
was far fro?n unappreciative. ^ His poetry^ he wrote i?i 
his biographical sketch, * might be bad or good ; he no 
doubt wanted a lyric facility and technical skill, but he 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

had the source of poetry in his spiritual perception. His 
own verses are often rude and defective. The gold does 
not yet rtm pure — is drossy and crude. The thyme and 
marjoram are not yet honey. But if he want lyric fine- 
ness and technical 7fierits^ if he have not the poetic 
temper ame7it^ he never lacks the causal thought^ showing 
that his genius was better than his talent.^ 

Perhaps what Thoreau said of Quarks, one of that 
school of gnomic poets of which he was a student, might 
be aptly applied to himself : ' It is rare to find one who 
was so much of a poet and so little of an artist. Hope- 
lessly quaint, he never doubts his genius ; it is only he 
and his God in all the world. He uses language some- 
times as greatly as Shakespeare ; and though there is not 
much straight grain in him, there is plenty of rough, 
crooked timber.^ The affi^iity of Thoreau's style to that 
of Herbert, Donne, Cowley, a?id other minor Eliza- 
bethans, has often been remarked ; and it has been truly 
said that the stanzas ^ Sic Vita^ might almost have a 
niche in Herberfs Temple. 

It must be gra7i,i:'d, then, that Thoreaii, whatever his 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

limitations^ had the poet's vision^ and sometimes the poefs 
divine faculty ; and if this was manifested more fre- 
quently in his masterly prose y it was neither absent from 
his verse nor from the ivhole te?tor of his character. It 
was his destiny to be one of the greatest prose writers 
whom America has produced^ and he had a strong, 
perhaps an exaggerated, sense of the dignity of this call- 
ing. ' Great prose^ he thinks, ' of equal elevation, co?n- 
mands our respect more than great verse, since it implies 
a more permanent and level height, a life more pervaded 
with the grandeur of the thought. The poet only makes 
an irruption, like a Farthian, and is off again, shooting 
while he retreats ; but the prose writer has cofiquered, 
like a Roman, and settled colonies.^ 

If therefore, we cannot unreservedly place Thoreati 
among the poetical brotherhood, we may at least recognise 
that he was a poet in the larger sefise in which his friends 
so regarded him — he felt, thought, acted, and lived as a 
poet, though he did 7tot always write as one. In his own 
words — 



INTRODUCTION xix 

' My life has been the poem I would have writ, 
Btit I could not both live and titter it, ' 

Such qualities dignify life mid 77iake the expression of it 
memorable^ not perhaps immediately^ to the multitude of 
readers, but at first to an appreciative few, and eventually 
to a wide ci^'cle of matikind. 



NATURE 

O Nature ! I do not aspire 
To be the highest in thy quire, — 
To be a meteor in the sky, 
Or comet that may range on high ; 
Only a zephyr that may blow 
Among the reeds by the river low ; 
Give me thy most privy place 
Where to run my airy race. 

In some withdrawn, unpublic mead 

Let me sigh upon a reed, 

Or in the woods, with leafy din. 

Whisper the still evening in : 

A 



POEMS OF NATURE 

Some still work give me to do, — 
Only — be it near to you ! 

For I 'd rather be thy child 
And pupil, in the forest wild. 
Than be the king of men elsewhere. 
And most sovereign slave of care : 
To have one moment of thy dawn. 
Than share the city's year forlorn. 



INSPIRATION 

Whate'er we leave to God, God does, 

And blesses us ; 
The work we choose should be our own, 

God leaves alone. 



If with light head erect I sing, 

Though all the Muses lend their force, 

From my poor love of anything, 

The verse is weak and shallow as its source. 

But if with bended neck I grope 

Listening behind me for my wit. 
With faith superior to hope, 

More anxious to keep back than forward it ; 

2 



4 POEMS OF NATURE 

Making my soul accomplice there 
Unto the flame my heart hath lit, 

Then will the verse for ever wear — 

Time cannot bend the line which God hath writ. 

Always the general show of things 
Floats in review before my mind, 

And such true love and reverence brings, 
That sometimes I forget that I am blind. 

But now there comes unsought, unseen, 

Some clear divine electuary, 
And I, who had but sensual been, 

Grow sensible, and as God is, am wary. 

I hearing get, who had but ears, 
And sight, who had but eyes before, 



INSPIRATION 5 

I moments live, who lived but years, 

And truth discern, who knew but learning's lore. 

1 hear beyond the range of sound, 

I see beyond the range of sight, 
New earths and skies and seas around, 

And in my day the sun doth pale his light. 

A clear and ancient harmony 

Pierces my soul through all its din. 

As through its utmost melody, — 

Farther behind than they, farther within. 

More swift its bolt than lightning is, 
Its voice than thunder is more loud, 

It doth expand my privacies 

To all, and leave me single in the crowd. 



POEMS OF NATURE 

It speaks with such authority, 

With so serene and lofty tone, 
That idle Time runs gadding by, 

And leaves me with Eternity alone. 

Now chiefly is my natal hour, 
And only now my prime of life. 

Of manhood's strength it is the flower, 

'Tis peace's end and war's beginning strife. 

It comes in summer's broadest noon, 
By a grey wall or some chance place, 

Unseasoning Time, insulting June, 

And vexing day with its presuming face. 

Such fragrance round my couch it makes, 
More rich than are Arabian drugs, 



INSPIRATION 7 

That my soul scents its life and wakes 
The body up beneath its perfumed rugs. 

Such is the Muse, the heavenly maid, 
The star that guides our mortal course. 

Which shows where life's true kernel 's laid, 
Its wheat's fine flour, and its undying 
force. 

She with one breath attunes the spheres, 

And also my poor human heart. 
With one impulse propels the years 

Around, and gives my throbbing pulse its 
start. 

I will not doubt for evermore, 
Nor falter from a steadfast faith, 



8 POEMS OF NATURE 

For though the system be turned o'er, 

God takes not back the word which once he 
saith. 

I will not doubt the love untold 

Which not my worth nor want has bought, 
Which wooed me young, and wooes me old, 

And to this evening hath me brought. 

My memory I '11 educate 

To know the one historic truth, 
Remembering to the latest date 

The only true and sole immortal youth. 

Be but thy inspiration given. 

No matter through what danger sought, 



INSPIRATION 9 

I '11 fathom hell or climb to heaven, 

And yet esteem that cheap which love has 
bought. 



Fame cannot tempt the bard 
Who 's famous vi^ith his God, 

Nor laurel him rev^ard 
Who has his Maker's nod. 



SIC VITAi 



It is but thin soil where we stand ; I have felt my roots in a richer 
ere this. I have seen a bunch of violets in a glass vase, tied 
loosely with a straw, which reminded me of myself.' — The Week. 



I AM a parcel of vain strivings tied 

By a chance bond together, 
DangHng this way and that, their Hnks 
Were made so loose and wide, 

Methinks, 
For milder weather. 



^ This poem was written on a sheet of paper wrapped round a 
bunch of violets, tied loosely with a straw, and thrown into the 
window of a friend. It was read at Thoreau's funeral by his 
friend Bronson Alcott. 
10 



SIC VITA II 

A bunch of violets without their roots, 

And sorrel intermixed, 
Encircled by a wisp of straw 
Once coiled about their shoots, 

The law 
By which I 'm fixed. 

A nosegay which Time clutched from out 

Those fair Elysian fields, 
With weeds and broken stems, in haste, 
Doth make the rabble rout 

That waste 
The day he yields. 

And here I bloom for a short hour unseen, 

Drinking my juices up, 
With no root in the land 



12 POEMS OF NATURE 

To keep my branches green, 

But stand 
In a bare cup. 

Some tender buds were left upon my stem 

In mimicry of life, 
But ah ! the children will not know, 
Till time has withered them, 

The woe 
With which they 're rife. 

But now I see I was not plucked for nought, 

And after in life's vase 
Of glass set while I might survive, 
But by a kind hand brought 

Alive 
To a strange place. 



SIC VITA 13 

That stock thus thinned will soon redeem its 
hours, 
And by another year, 
Such as God knows, with freer air, 
More fruits and fairer flowers 

Will bear, 
While I droop here. 



THE FISHER'S BOYi 

My life is like a stroll upon the beach, 
As near the ocean's edge as I can go ; 

My tardy steps its waves sometimes o'erreach, 
Sometimes I stay to let them overflow. 

My sole employment 'tis, and scrupulous care. 
To place my gains beyond the reach of tides, 

Each smoother pebble, and each shell more rare, 
Which Ocean kindly to my hand confides. 



1 The above title, prefixed to these stanzas in Emerson's selec- 
tion, is scarcely suited to so personal and characteristic a poem, 
14 



THE FISHER'S BOY 15 

I have but few companions on the shore : 

They scorn the strand who sail upon the sea ; 

Yet oft I think the ocean they 've sailed o'er 
Is deeper known upon the strand to me. 

The middle sea contains no crimson dulse, 
Its deeper waves cast up no pearls to view ; 

Along the shore my hand is on its pulse, 

And I converse with many a shipwrecked crew. 



THE ATLANTIDES 



The Friend is some fair floating isle of palms eluding the mariner in 
Pacific Seas.' — The Week. 



The smothered streams of love, which flow 

More bright than Phlegethon, more low, 

Island us ever, like the sea. 

In an Atlantic mystery. 

Our fabled shores none ever reach. 

No mariner has found our beach, 

Scarcely our mirage now is seen, 

And neighboring waves with floating green, 

Yet still the oldest charts contain 

Some dotted outline of our main ; 

In ancient times midsummer days 

Unto the western islands' gaze, 

16 



THE ATLANTIDES 17 

To Tenerifife and the Azores, 

Have shown our faint and cloud-like shores. 

But sink not yet, ye desolate isles, 
Anon your coast with commerce smiles, 
And richer freights ye '11 furnish far 
Than Africa or Malabar. 
Be fair, be fertile evermore. 
Ye rumored but untrodden shore ; 
Princes and monarchs will contend 
Who first unto your lands shall send. 
And pawn the jewels of the crown 
To call your distant soil their own. 

Sea and land are but his neighbors, 

And companions in his labors, 
B 



I8 POEMS OF NATURE 

Who on the ocean's verge and firm land's end 

Doth long and truly seek his Friend. 

Many men dwell far inland, 

But he alone sits on the strand. 

Whether he ponders men or books, 

Always still he seaward looks, 

Marine news he ever reads, 

And the slightest glances heeds, 

Feels the sea breeze on his cheek. 

At each word the landsmen speak. 

In every companion's eye 

A sailing vessel doth descry ; 

In the ocean's sullen roar 

From some distant port he hears. 

Of wrecks upon a distant shore, 

And the ventures of past years. 



THE AURORA OF GUIDO^ 

A FRAGMENT 

The god of day his car rolls up the slopes, 
Reining his prancing steeds with steady hand ; 

The lingering moon through western shadows 
gropes, 
While Morning sheds its light o'er sea and land. 

Castles and cities by the sounding main 
Resound with all the busy din of life ; 

The fisherman unfurls his sails again ; 

And the recruited warrior bides the strife. 



^ Suggested by the print of Guide's 'Aurora,' sent by Mrs. 
Carlyle as a wedding gift to Mrs. Emerson. 

19 



20 POEMS OF NATURE 

The early breeze ruffles the poplar leaves ; 

The curling waves reflect the unseen light ; 
The slumbering sea with the day's impulse heaves, 

While o'er the western hill retires the drowsy 
night. 

The seabirds dip their bills in Ocean's foam, 
Far circling out over the frothy waves, — 



SYMPATHY! 

Lately, alas ! I knew a gentle boy, 

Whose features all were cast in Virtue's mould, 
As one she had designed for Beauty's toy, 

But after manned him for her own stronghold. 

On every side he open was as day. 

That you might see no lack of strength within ; 
For walls and ports do only serve alway 

For a pretence to feebleness and sin. 



^ The explanation of this poem, given on Emerson's authority, 
but necessarily somewhat conjectural, is that a reference is made, 
under the character of the 'gentle boy,' to the girl with whom 
both Henry and John Thoreau were in love. 

21 



22 POEMS OF NATURE 

Say not that Caesar was victorious, 

With toil and strife who stormed the House 
of Fame ; 
In other sense this youth was glorious, 

Himself a kingdom wheresoe'er he came. 

No strength went out to get him victory, 
When all was income of its own accord ; 

For where he went none other was to see, 
But all were parcel of their noble lord. 

He forayed like the subtle haze of summer, 
That stilly shows fresh landscapes to our 
eyes. 

And revolutions works without a murmur, 
Or rustling of a leaf beneath the skies. 



SYMPATHY 23 

So was I taken unawares by this, 

I quite forgot my homage to confess ; 

Yet now am forced to know, though hard it is, 
I might have loved him, had I loved him less. 

Each moment as we nearer drew to each, 
A stern respect withheld us farther yet, 

So that we seemed beyond each other's reach. 
And less acquainted than when first we met. 

We two were one while we did sympathise, 
So could we not the simplest bargain drive ; 

And what avails it, now that we are wise, 
If absence doth this doubleness contrive? 

Eternity may not the chance repeat ; 
But I must tread my single way alone, 



24 POEMS OF NATURE 

In sad remembrance that we once did meet, 
And know that bliss irrevocably gone. 

The spheres henceforth my elegy shall sing, 

For elegy has other subject none ; 
Each strain of music in my ears shall ring 

Knell of departure from that other one. 

Make haste and celebrate my tragedy ; 

With fitting strain resound, ye woods and fields ; 
Sorrow is dearer in such case to me 

Than all the joys other occasion yields. 



Is't then too late the damage to repair? 

Distance, forsooth, from my weak grasp has reft 
The empty husk, and clutched the useless tare, 

But in my hands the wheat and kernel left. 



SYMPATHY 25 

If I but love that virtue which he is, 

Though it be scented in the morning air, 

Still shall we be truest acquaintances, 

Nor mortals know a sympathy more rare. 



FRIENDSHIP 

' Friends, Romans, Countrymen, and Lovers.' 

Let such pure hate still underprop 
Our love, that we may be 
Each other's conscience, 
And have our sympathy 
Mainly from thence. 

We '11 one another treat like gods, 
And all the faith we have 
In virtue and in truth, bestow 
On either, and suspicion leave 
To gods below. 

26 



FRIENDSHIP 27 

Two solitary stars — 
Unmeasured systems far 
Between us roll ; 

But by our conscious light we are 
Determined to one pole. 

What need confound the sphere ? — 

Love can afford to wait ; 

For it no hour 's too late 

That witnesseth one duty's end, 

Or to another doth beginning lend. 

It will subserve no use, 
More than the tints of flowers ; 
Only the independent guest 
Frequents its bowers, 
Inherits its bequest. 



28 POEMS OF NATURE 

No speech, though kind, has it ; 
But kinder silence doles 
Unto its mates ; 
By night consoles. 
By day congratulates. 

What saith the tongue to tongue ? 
What heareth ear of ear ? 
By the decrees of fate 
From year to year. 
Does it communicate. 

Pathless the gulf of feeling yawns : 
No trivial bridge of words, 
Or arch of boldest span, 
Can leap the moat that girds 
The sincere man. 



FRIENDSHIP 29 

No show of bolts and bars 
Can keep the foeman out, 
Or 'scape his secret mine, 
Who entered with the doubt 
That drew the line. 

No warder at the gate 
Can let the friendly in ; 
But, like the sun, o'er all 
He will the castle win, 
And shine along the wall. 

There 's nothing in the world I know 
That can escape from love. 
For every depth it goes below, 
And every height above. 



30 POEMS OF NATURE 

It waits, as waits the sky 
Until the clouds go by, 
Yet shines serenely on 
With an eternal day, 
Alike when they are gone, 
And when they stay. 

Implacable is Love, — 
Foes may be bought or teased 
From their hostile intent. 
But he goes unappeased 
Who is on kindness bent. 



TRUE KINDNESS 

True kindness is a pure divine affinity, 
Not founded upon human consanguinity. 
It is a spirit, not a blood relation, 
Superior to family and station. 



31 



TO THE MAIDEN IN THE EAST 

Low in the eastern sky 
Is set thy glancing eye ; 
And though its gracious Hght 
Ne'er riseth to my sight, 
Yet every star that climbs 
Above the gnarled limbs 

Of yonder hill, 
Conveys thy gentle will. 



Believe I knew thy thought. 
And that the zephyrs brought 



32 



TO THE MAIDEN IN THE EAST 33 

Thy kindest wishes through, 
As mine they bear to you ; 
That some attentive cloud 
Did pause amid the crowd 

Over my head, 
While gentle things were said. 



Believe the thrushes sung, 

And that the flower-bells rung, 

That herbs exhaled their scent. 

And beasts knew what was meant, 

The trees a welcome waved. 

And lakes their margins laved, 

When thy free mind 

To my retreat did wind. 
C 



34 POEMS OF NATURE 

It was a summer eve, 
The air did gently heave 
While yet a low-hung cloud 
Thy eastern skies did shroud ; 
The lightning's silent gleam, 
Startling my drowsy dream. 

Seemed like the flash 
Under thy dark eyelash. 

From yonder comes the sun, 
But soon his course is run, 
Rising to trivial day 
Along his dusty way ; 
But thy noontide completes 
Only auroral heats, 
Nor ever sets. 
To hasten vain regrets. 



TO THE MAIDEN IN THE EAST 35 

Direct thy pensive eye 
Into the western sky ; 
And when the evening star 
Does glimmer from afar 
Upon the mountain line, 
Accept it for a sign 

That I am near, 
And thinking of thee here. 

I '11 be thy Mercury, 
Thou Cytherea to me, 
Distinguished by thy face 
The earth shall learn my place ; 
As near beneath thy light 
Will I outwear the night. 

With mingled ray 
Leading the westward way. 



36 POEMS OF NATURE 

Still will I strive to be 
As if thou wert with me ; 
Whatever path I take, 
It shall be for thy sake, 
Of gentle slope and wide. 
As thou wert by my side. 

Without a root 
To trip thy gentle foot. 

I '11 walk with gentle pace. 
And choose the smoothest place. 
And careful dip the oar, 
And shun the winding shore, 
And gently steer my boat 
Where water-lilies float. 

And cardinal flowers 
Stand in their sylvan bowers. 



FREE LOVE 

My love must be as free 
As is the eagle's wing, 

Hovering o'er land and sea 
And everything. 

I must not dim my eye 

In thy saloon, 
I must not leave my sky 

And nightly moon. 

Be not the fowler's net 
Which stays my flight, 

And craftily is set 
T' allure the sight. 



38 POEMS OF NATURE 

But be the favoring gale 
That bears me on, 

And still doth fill my sail 
When thou art gone. 

I cannot leave my sky 

For thy caprice, 
True love would soar as high 

As heaven is. 

The eagle would not brook 
Her mate thus won, 

Who trained his eye to look 
Beneath the sun. 



RUMORS FROM AN ^OLIAN HARP 

There is a vale which none hath seen, 
Where foot of man has never been, 
Such as here lives with toil and strife, 
An anxious and a sinful life. 

There every virtue has its birth, 
Ere it descends upon the earth. 
And thither every deed returns. 
Which in the generous bosom burns. 

There love is warm, and youth is young, 
And poetry is yet unsung. 
For Virtue still adventures there. 
And freely breathes her native air. 

39 



40 POEMS OF NATURE 

And ever, if you hearken well, 
You still may hear its vesper bell. 
And tread of high-souled men go by, 
Their thoughts conversing with the sky. 



LINES 

Though all the Fates should prove unkind, 

Leave not your native land behind. 

The ship, becalmed, at length stands still ; 

The steed must rest beneath the hill ; 

But swiftly still our fortunes pace 

To find us out in every place. 

The vessel, though her masts be firm. 
Beneath her copper bears a worm ; 
Around the Cape, across the Line, 
Till fields of ice her course confine ; 
It matters not how smooth the breeze, 
How shallow or how deep the seas, 

41 



42 POEMS OF NATURE 

Whether she bears Manilla twine, 

Or in her hold Madeira wine, 

Or China teas, or Spanish hides, 

In port or quarantine she rides ; 

Far from New England's blustering shore, 

New England's worm her hulk shall bore, 

And sink her in the Indian seas, — 

Twine, wine, and hides, and China teas. 



STANZAS 



' Before each van 
Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears 
Till thickest legions close ; with feats of arms 
From either end of Heaven the welkin burns. ' 



Away ! away ! away ! away ! 

Ye have not kept your secret well, 
I will abide that other day, 

Those other lands ye tell. 

Has time no leisure left for these, 
The acts that ye rehearse ? 

Is not eternity a lease 

For better deeds than verse ? 



44 POEMS OF NATURE 

'Tis sweet to hear of heroes dead, 
To know them still alive, 

But sweeter if we earn their bread, 
And in us they survive. 



Our life should feed the springs of fame 

With a perennial wave, 
As ocean feeds the babbling founts 

Which find in it their grave. 

Ye skies drop gently round my breast, 

And be my corslet blue. 
Ye earth receive my lance in rest, 

My faithful charger you ; 

Ye stars my spear-heads in the sky. 
My arrow-tips ye are ; 



STANZAS 45 

I see the routed foemen fly, 
My bright spears fixed are. 

Give me an angel for a foe, 

Fix now the place and time, 
And straight to meet him I will go 

Above the starry chime. 

And with our clashing bucklers' clang 
The heavenly spheres shall ring, 

While bright the northern lights shall hang 
Beside our tourneying. 

And if she lose her champion true, 

Tell Heaven not despair. 
For I will be her champion new, 

Her fame I will repair. 



A RIVER SCENE 

The river swelleth more and more, 
Like some sweet influence stealing o'er 
The passive town ; and for a while 
Each tussock makes a tiny isle, 
Where, on some friendly Ararat, 
Resteth the weary water-rat 

No ripple shows Musketaquid, 

Her very current e'en is hid, 

As deepest souls do calmest rest, 

When thoughts are swelling in the breast. 



A RIVER SCENE 47 

And she that in the summer's drought 
Doth make a rippling and a rout, 
Sleeps from Nahshawtuck to the Cliff, 
Unruffled by a single skiff. 
But by a thousand distant hills 
The louder roar a thousand rills, 
And many a spring which now is dumb, 
And many a stream with smothered hum, 
Doth swifter well and faster glide. 
Though buried deep beneath the tide. 

Our village shows a rural Venice, 
Its broad lagoons where yonder fen is ; 
As lovely as the Bay of Naples 
Yon placid cove amid the maples ; 
And in my neighbour's field of corn 
I recognise the Golden Horn. 



48 POEMS OF NATURE 

Here Nature taught from year to year, 
When only red men came to hear ; 
Methinks 'twas in this school of art 
Venice and Naples learned their part, 
But still their mistress, to my mind, 
Her young disciples leaves behind. 



RIVER SONG 

Ply the oars ! away ! away ! 
In each dew-drop of the morning 
Lies the promise of a day. 

Rivers from the sunrise flow, 

Springing with the dewy morn 
Voyageurs 'gainst time do row, 
Idle noon nor sunset know, 
Ever even with the dawn. 



Since that first ' Away ! away ! ' 

Many a lengthy reach we 've rowed, 

Still the sparrow on the spray 

Hastes to usher in the day 

With her simple-stanza'd ode. 
D 



SOME TUMULTUOUS LITTLE RILL 

Some tumultuous little rill, 

Purling round its storied pebble, 

Tinkling to the selfsame tune, 

From September until June, 

Which no drought doth e'er enfeeble. 

Silent flows the parent stream, 

And if rocks do lie below. 
Smothers with her waves the din, 
As it were a youthful sin, 

Just as still, and just as slow. 



50 



BOAT SONG 

Thus, perchance, the Indian hunter, 
Many a lagging year agone. 

Gliding o'er thy rippling waters, 
Lowly hummed a natural song. 

Now the sun 's behind the willows, 
Now he gleams along the waves, 

Faintly o'er the wearied billows 
Come the spirits of the braves. 



61 



TO MY BROTHER 

Brother, where dost thou dwell ? 

What sun shines for thee now ? 
Dost thou indeed fare well, 

As we wished thee here below ? 

What season didst thou find ? 

'Twas winter here. 
Are not the Fates more kind 

Than they appear ? 

Is thy brow clear again 
As in thy youthful years ? 

62 



i 



TO MY BROTHER 53 

And was that ugly pain 
The summit of thy fears ? 

Yet thou wast cheery still ; 

They could not quench thy fire ; 
Thou didst abide their will, 

And then retire. 

Where chiefly shall I look 

To feel thy presence near ? 
Along the neighboring brook 

May I thy voice still hear ? 

Dost thou still haunt the brink 

Of yonder river's tide ? 
And may I ever think 

That thou art by my side ? 



54 POEMS OF NATURE 

What bird wilt thou employ 
To bring me word of thee ? 

For it would give them joy — 
'Twould give them liberty — 

To serve their former lord 
With wing and minstrelsy. 

A sadder strain mixed with their song 
They Ve slowlier built their nests ; 

Since thou art gone 
Their lively labor rests. 

Where is the finch, the thrush, 

I used to hear ? 
Ah, they could well abide 

The dying year. 



Sd5 



TO MY BROTHER 55 

Now they no more return, 

I hear them not ; 
They have remained to mourn, 

Or else forgot 



STANZAS 

Nature doth have her dawn each day, 

But mine are far between ; 
Content, I cry, for, sooth to say, 

Mine brightest are, I ween. 

For when my sun doth deign to rise, 

Though it be her noontide, 
Her fairest field in shadow Hes, 

Nor can my light abide. 

Sometimes I bask me in her day, 

Conversing with my mate, 
But if we interchange one ray, 

Forthwith her heats abate. 

56 



STANZAS 57 

Through his discourse I climb and see 

As from some eastern hill, 
A brighter morrow rise to me 

Than lieth in her skill. 

As 'twere two summer days in one, 

Two Sundays come together, 
Our rays united make one sun. 

With fairest summer weather. 



THE INWARD MORNING 

Packed in my mind lie all the clothes 
Which outward nature wears, 

And in its fashion's hourly change 
It all things else repairs. 

In vain 1 look for change abroad, 
And can no difference find, 

Till some new ray of peace uncalled 
Illumes my inmost mind. 

What is it gilds the trees and clouds. 
And paints the heavens so gay, 

58 



THE INWARD MORNING 59 

But yonder fast-abiding light 
With its unchanging ray ? 

Lo, when the sun streams through the wood, 

Upon a winter's morn, 
Where'er his silent beams intrude 

The murky night is gone. 

How could the patient pine have known 
The morning breeze would come, 

Or humble flowers anticipate 
The insect's noonday hum, — 

Till the new light with morning cheer 
From far streamed through the aisles, 

And nimbly told the forest trees 
For many stretching miles ? 



6o POEMS OF NATURE 

I 've heard within my inmost soul 
Such cheerful morning news, 

In the horizon of my mind 
Have seen such orient hues, 

As in the twilight of the dawn, 
When the first birds awake, 

Are heard within some silent wood. 
Where they the small twigs break. 

Or in the eastern skies are seen. 
Before the sun appears. 

The harbingers of summer heats 
Which from afar he bears. 



GREECE 

When life contracts into a vulgar span, 
And human nature tires to be a man, 

I thank the Gods for Greece, 

That permanent realm of peace. 
For as the rising moon far in the night 
Chequers the shade with her forerunning light, 
So in my darkest hour my senses seem 
To catch from her Acropolis a gleam. 

Greece, who am I that should remember thee, 

Thy Marathon, and thy Thermopylae ? 

Is my life vulgar, my fate mean. 

Which on such golden memories can lean ? 



y^ 



THE FUNERAL BELL 

One more is gone 
Out of the busy throng 

That tread these paths ; 
The church-bell tolls, 
Its sad knell rolls 

To many hearths, 

Flower-bells toll not, 
Their echoes roll not 

Upon my ear ; 
There still perchance 
That gentle spirit haunts 

A fragrant bier. 



THE FUNERAL BELL 63 

Low lies the pall, 
Lowly the mourners all 

Their passage grope ; 
No sable hue 
Mars the serene blue 

Of heaven's cope. 

In distant dell 

Faint sounds the funeral bell ; 

A heavenly chime ; 
Some poet there 
Weaves the light-burthened air 

Into sweet rhyme. 



THE SUMMER RAIN 

My books I 'd fain cast off, I cannot read, 

'Twixt every page my thoughts go stray at 
large 

Down in the meadow, where is richer feed. 
And will not mind to hit their proper targe. 

Plutarch was good, and so was Homer too, 

Our Shakespeare's life were rich to live again. 
What Plutarch read, that was not good nor 
true, 
Nor Shakespeare's books, unless his books were 
men. 

64 



THE SUMMER RAIN 65 

Here while I lie beneath this walnut bough, 
What care I for the Greeks or for Troy town, 

If juster battles are enacted now 
Between the ants upon this hummock's crown ? " 

Bid Homer wait till I the issue learn. 
If red or black the gods will favor most, 

Or yonder Ajax will the phalanx turn, 

Struggling to heave some rock against the host. 

Tell Shakespeare to attend some leisure hour, / / 
For now I 've business with this drop of dew, "' 

And see you not, the clouds prepare a shower, — 
I '11 meet him shortly when the sky is blue. 

This bed of herdsgrass and wild oats was spread 

Last year with nicer skill than monarchs use, 
E 



66 POEMS OF NATURE 

A clover tuft is pillow for my head, 
And violets quite overtop my shoes. 

And now the cordial clouds have shut all in, 
And gently swells the wind to say all 's well ; 

The scattered drops are falling fast and thin. 
Some in the pool, some in the flower-bell. 

I am well drenched upon my bed of oats ; 

But see that globe come rolling down its stem, 
Now like a lonely planet there it floats, 

And now it sinks into my garment's hem. 

Drip, drip the trees for all the country round. 
And richness rare distils from every bough ; 

The wind alone it is makes every sound. 
Shaking down crystals on the leaves below. 



THE SUMMER RAIN 67 

For shame the sun will never show himself, 

Who could not with his beams e'er melt me so ; 

My dripping locks, — they would become an elf. 
Who in a beaded coat does gayly go. 



MIST 

Low-anchored cloud, 

Newfoundland air, 

Fountain-head and source of rivers. 

Dew-cloth, dream-drapery. 

And napkin spread by fays ; 

Drifting meadow of the air. 

Where bloom the daisied banks and violets, 

And in whose fenny labyrinth 

The bittern booms and heron wades ; 

Spirit of lakes and seas and rivers, — 

Bear only perfumes and the scent 

Of healing herbs to just men's fields. 



SMOKEi 

Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird, 
Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight ; 
Lark without song, and messenger of dawn. 
Circling above the hamlets as thy nest ; 
Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form 
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts ; 
By night star-veiling, and by day 
Darkening the light and blotting out the sun ; 
Go thou, my incense, upward from this hearth, 
And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame. 



1 This and the following poem appeared under the title of 
Orphics ' in the Dial. 



HAZE 

Woof of the sun/ ethereal gauze, 
Woven of Nature's richest stuffs, 
Visible heat, air-water, and dry sea. 
Last conquest of the eye ; 
Toil of the day displayed, sun-dust, 
Aerial surf upon the shores of earth. 
Ethereal estuary, frith of light, 
Breakers of air, billows of heat. 
Fine summer spray on inland seas ; 
Bird of the sun, transparent-winged, 
Owlet of noon, soft-pinioned, 
From heath or stubble rising without song. 
Establish thy serenity o'er the fields. 

1 Wrongly printed ' fen ' in Emerson's selection. 
70 



THE MOON 

' Time wears her not ; she doth his chariot guide ; 
Mortality below her orb is placed.' — Raleigh. 

The full-orbed moon with unchanged ray- 
Mounts up the eastern sky, 

Not doomed to these short nights for aye, 
But shining steadily. 

She does not wane, but my fortune. 
Which her rays do not bless ; 

My wayward path declineth soon, 
But she shines not the less. 

And if she faintly glimmers here 

And paled is her light. 
Yet always in her proper sphere 

She 's mistress of the night. 

71 



THE VIREO 

Upon the lofty elm -tree sprays 
The vireo rings the changes sweet, 

During the trivial summer days, 

Striving to lift our thoughts above the street. 



72 



THE POET'S DELAY 

In vain I see the morning rise, 

In vain observe the western blaze, -"" 

Who idly look to other skies, 

Expecting life by other ways. 4c 

Amidst such boundless wealth without, 

I only still am poor within, 
The birds have sung their summer out. 

But still my spring does not begin. 



Jet 



^%N 



Shall I then wait the autumn wind, ^ C' 

^j -^ Compelled to seek a milder day, "^ 
And leave no curious nest behind, 
No woods still echoing to my lay ? 

73 



LINES 

All things are current found 
On earthly ground, 
Spirits and elements 
Have their descents. 

Night and day, year on year, 
High and low, far and near, 
These are our own aspects, 
These are our own regrets. 

Ye gods of the shore, 
Who abide evermore, 
I see your far headland. 
Stretching on either hand ; 



74 



LINES 75 

I hear the sweet evening sounds 
From your undecaying grounds ; 
Cheat me no more with time, 
Take me to your cHme. 



NATURE'S CHILD 

I AM the autumnal sun, 
With autumn gales my race is run ; 
When will the hazel put forth its flowers, 
Or the grape ripen under my bowers ? 
When will the harvest or the hunter's moon, 
Turn my midnight into mid-noon ? 

I am all sere and yellow, 

And to my core mellow. 
The mast is dropping within my woods. 
The winter is lurking within my moods, 
And the rustling of the withered leaf 
Is the constant music of my grief 



76 



THE FALL OF THE LEAF^ 

Thank God who seasons thus the year, 
And sometimes kindly slants his rays ; 

For in his winter he 's most near 

And plainest seen upon the shortest days. 

Who gently tempers now his heats, 
And then his harsher cold, lest we 

Should surfeit on the summer's sweets, 
Or pine upon the winter's crudity. 



1 The first four of these stanzas (unnamed by Thoreau) were 
published in the Boston Commonwealth in 1863, under the title of 
* The Soul's Season,' the remainder as 'The Fall of the Leaf.' 
There can be little doubt that they are parts of one complete poem. 

77 



78 POEMS OF NATURE 

A sober mind will walk alone, 

Apart from nature, if need be, 
And only its own seasons own ; 

For nature leaving its humanity. 

Sometimes a late autumnal thought 
Has crossed my mind in green July, 

And to its early freshness brought 

Late ripened fruits, and an autumnal sky. 

The evening of the year draws on, 

The fields a later aspect wear ; 
Since Summer's garishness is gone, 

Some grains of night tincture the noontide air. 

Behold ! the shadows of the trees 
Now circle wider 'bout their stem. 



THE FALL OF THE LEAF 79 

Like sentries that by slow degrees 

Perform their rounds, gently protecting them. 

And as the year doth decline, 

The sun allows a scantier light ; 
Behind each needle of the pine 

There lurks a small auxiliar to the night. 

I hear the cricket's slumbrous lay 

Around, beneath me, and on high ; 
It rocks the night, it soothes the day, 

And everywhere is Nature's lullaby. 

But most he chirps beneath the sod. 

When he has made his winter bed ; 
His creak grown fainter but more broad, 

A film of autumn o'er the summer spread. 



8o POEMS OF NATURE 

Small birds, in fleets migrating by, 
Now beat across some meadow's bay. 

And as they tack and veer on high, 

With faint and hurried click beguile the 
way. 

Far in the woods, these golden days. 

Some leaf obeys its Maker's call ; 
And through their hollow aisles it plays 

With delicate touch the prelude of the Fall. 

Gently withdrawing from its stem. 

It lightly lays itself along 
Where the same hand hath pillowed them. 

Resigned to sleep upon the old year's throng. 

The loneliest birch is brown and sere. 
The furthest pool is strewn with leaves, 



THE FALL OF THE LEAF 8l 

Which float upon their watery bier, 

Where is no eye that sees, no heart that grieves. 

The jay screams through the chestnut wood ; 

The crisped and yellow leaves around 
Are hue and texture of my mood — 

And these rough burrs my heirlooms on the 
ground. 

The threadbare trees, so poor and thin — 

They are no wealthier than I ; 
But with as brave a core within 

They rear their boughs to the October sky. 

Poor knights they are which bravely wait 

The charge of Winter's cavalry, 

Keeping a simple Roman state, 

Discumbered of their Persian luxury. 
F 



SMOKE IN WINTER 

The sluggish smoke curls up from some deep 

dell, 
The stiffened air exploring in the dawn, 
And making slow acquaintance with the day ; 
Delaying now upon its heavenward course, 
In wreathed loiterings dallying with itself, 
With as uncertain purpose and slow deed. 
As its half-wakened master by the hearth, 
Whose mind, still slumbering, and sluggish 

thoughts 
Have not yet swept into the onward current 
Of the new day ; — and now it streams afar. 
The while the chopper goes with step direct. 
And mind intent to wield the early axe. 

82 



SMOKE IN WINTER 83 

First in the dusky dawn he sends abroad 

His early scout, his emissary, smoke. 

The earHest, latest pilgrim from the roof. 

To feel the frosty air, inform the day ; 

And while he crouches still beside the hearth, 

Nor musters courage to unbar the door. 

It has gone down the glen with the light wind. 

And o'er the plain unfurled its venturous wreath. 

Draped the tree-tops, loitered upon the hill, 

And warmed the pinions of the early bird ; 

And now, perchance, high in the crispy air. 

Has caught sight of the day o'er the earth's edge, 

And greets its master's eye at his low door, 

As some refulgent cloud in the upper sky. 



WINTER MEMORIES 

Within the circuit of this plodding life 
There enter moments of an azure hue, 
Untarnished fair as is the violet 
Or anemone, when the spring strews them 
By some meandering rivulet, which make 
The best philosophy untrue that aims 
But to console man for his grievances. 
I have remembered when the winter came, 
High in my chamber in the frosty nights, 
When in the still light of the cheerful moon, 
On every twig and rail and jutting spout, 
The icy spears were adding to their length 
Against the arrows of the coming sun, — 
How in the shimmering noon of summer past 

84 



WINTER MEMORIES 85 

Some unrecorded beam slanted across 

The upland pastures where the johnswort grew ; 

Or heard, amid the verdure of my mind, 

The bee's long smothered hum, on the blue flag 

Loitering amidst the mead ; or busy rill. 

Which now through all its course stands still and 

dumb. 
Its own memorial, — purling at its play 
Along the slopes, and through the meadows next. 
Until its youthful sound was hushed at last 
In the staid current of the lowland stream ; 
Or seen the furrows shine but late upturned. 
And where the fieldfare followed in the rear, 
When all the fields around lay bound and hoar 
Beneath a thick integument of snow : — 
So by God's cheap economy made rich. 
To go upon my winter's task again. 



STANZAS WRITTEN AT WALDEN 

When Winter fringes every bough 

With his fantastic wreath, 
And puts the seal of silence now 

Upon the leaves beneath ; 

When every stream in its pent-house 

Goes gurgling on its way, 
And in his gallery the mouse 

Nibbleth the meadow hay ; 

Methinks the summer still is nigh, 

And lurketh underneath, 
As that same meadow-mouse doth lie 

Snug in that last year's heath. 



STANZAS WRITTEN AT WALDEN 87 

And if perchance the chicadee 

Lisp a faint note anon, 
The snow is summer's canopy, 

Which she herself put on. 

Fair blossoms deck the cheerful trees, 

And dazzling fruits depend ; 
The north wind sighs a summer breeze, 

The nipping frosts to fend, 

Bringing glad tidings unto me, 

The while I stand all ear, 
Of a serene eternity, 

Which need not winter fear. 

Out on the silent pond straightway 
The restless ice doth crack, 



88 POEMS OF NATURE 

And pond-sprites merry gambols play 
Amid the deafening rack. 

Eager I hasten to the vale, 
As if I heard brave news, 

How Nature held high festival. 
Which it were hard to lose. 

I gambol with my neighbor ice, 
And sympathising quake. 

As each new crack darts in a trice 
Across the gladsome lake. 

One with the cricket in the ground, 
And fagot on the hearth, 

Resounds the rare domestic sound 
Along the forest path. 



THE THAW 

I SAW the civil sun drying earth's tears, 
Her tears of joy that only faster flowed. 

Fain would I stretch me by the highway side 
To thaw and trickle with the melting snow ; 
That mingled, soul and body, with the tide, 
I too may through the pores of nature flow. 



A WINTER SCENE! 

The rabbit leaps, 
The mouse out-creeps, 
The flag out-peeps 

Beside the brook ; 
The ferret weeps, 
The marmot sleeps. 
The owlet keeps 

In his snug nook. 

The apples thaw. 
The ravens caw, 
The squirrels gnaw 
The frozen fruit. 

^ These stanzas formed part of the original manuscript of the 
essay on ' A Winter Walk,' but were excluded by Emerson. 
90 



A WINTER SCENE 

To their retreat 
I track the feet 
Of mice that eat 

The apple's root. 

The snow-dust falls, 
The otter crawls, 
The partridge calls. 

Far in the wood. 
The traveller dreams, 
The tree-ice gleams. 
The blue-jay screams 

In angry mood. 

The willows droop, 
The alders stoop. 



92 POEMS OF NATURE 

The pheasants group 
Beneath the snow. 



The catkins green 



Cast o'er the scene 

A summer's sheen, 

A genial glow. 



THE CROW 

Thou dusky spirit of the wood, 

Bird of an ancient brood, 
Flitting thy lonely way, 

A meteor in the summer's day, 
From wood to wood, from hill to hill. 

Low over forest, field, and rill. 
What wouldst thou say ? 

Why shouldst thou haunt the day ? 
What makes thy melancholy float ? 

What bravery inspires thy throat, 
And bears thee up above the clouds. 

Over desponding human crowds, 
Which far below 
Lay thy haunts low ? 



TO A STRAY FOWL 

Poor bird ! destined to lead thy life 
Far in the adventurous west, 

And here to be debarred to-night 
From thy accustomed nest ; 
Must thou fall back upon old instinct now — 
Well-nigh extinct under man's fickle care ? 
Did heaven bestow its quenchless inner light 
So long ago, for thy small want to-night ? 
Why stand'st upon thy toes to crow so late ? 
The moon is deaf to thy low feathered fate ; 
Or dost thou think so to possess the night, 
And people the drear dark with thy brave sprite ? 
And now with anxious eye thou look'st about, 

94 



TO A STRAY FOWL 95 

While the relentless shade draws on its veil, 
For some sure shelter from approaching dews, 
And the insidious step of nightly foes. 
I fear imprisonment has dulled thy wit, 
Or ingrained servitude extinguished it — 
But no — dim memory of the days of yore, 
By Brahmapootra and the Jumna's shore. 
Where thy proud race flew swiftly o'er the heath, 
And sought its food the jungle's shade beneath, 
Has taught thy wings to seek yon friendly trees. 
As erst by Indus' bank and far Ganges. 



MOUNTAINS 

With frontier strength ye stand your ground, 

With grand content ye circle round, 

Tumultuous silence for all sound, 

Ye distant nursery of rills, 

Monadnock, and the Peterborough hills ; — 

Firm argument that never stirs, 

Outcircling the philosophers, — 

Like some vast fleet 

Sailing through rain and sleet, 

Through winter's cold and summer's heat ; 

Still holding on upon your high emprise, 

Until ye find a shore amid the skies ; 

Not skulking close to land. 

With cargo contraband ; 

96 



MOUNTAINS 97 

For they who sent a venture out by ye 
Have set the Sun to see 
Their honesty. 
Ships of the line, each one, 
Ye westward run, 
Convoying clouds, 
Which cluster in your shrouds, 
Always before the gale, 
Under a press of sail, 
With weight of metal all untold ; — 
I seem to feel ye in my firm seat here, 
Immeasurable depth of hold, 
And breadth of beam, and length of running 
gear. 

Methinks ye take luxurious pleasure 

In your novel western leisure ; 
G 



POEMS OF NATURE 

So cool your brows and freshly blue, 

As Time had nought for ye to do ; 

For ye lie at your length, 

An unappropriated strength. 

Unhewn primeval timber 

For knees so stiff, for masts so limber. 

The stock of which new earths are made. 

One day to be our western trade. 

Fit for the stanchions of a world 

Which through the seas of space is hurled. 

While we enjoy a lingering ray, 
Ye still o'ertop the western day. 
Reposing yonder on God's croft. 
Like solid stacks of hay. 
So bold a line as ne'er was writ 
On any page by human wit ; 



MOUNTAINS 99 

The forest glows as if 

An enemy's camp-fires shone 

Along the horizon, 

Or the day's funeral pyre 

Were lighted there ; 

Edged with silver and with gold, 

The clouds hang o'er in damask fold. 

And with fresh depth of amber light 

The west is dight, 

Where still a few rays slant, 

That even Heaven seems extravagant. 

Watatic Hill 

Lies on the horizon's sill 

Like a child's toy left overnight. 

And other duds to left and right ; 

On the earth's edge, mountains and trees 

Stand as they were on air graven. 



lOO POEMS OF NATURE 

Or as the vessels in a haven 

Await the morning breeze. 

I fancy even 

Through your defiles windeth the way to heaven ; 

And yonder still, in spite of history's page, 

Linger the golden and the silver age ; 

Upon the laboring gale 

The news of future centuries is brought. 

And of new dynasties of thought, 

From your remotest vale. 

But special I remember thee, 
Wachusett, who like me 
Standest alone without society. 
Thy far blue eye, 
A remnant of the sky. 
Seen through the clearing of the gorge. 



MOUNTAINS loi 

Or from the windows of the forge, 
Doth leaven all it passes by. 
Nothing is true, 
But stands 'tween me and you. 
Thou western pioneer. 
Who know'st not shame nor fear. 
By venturous spirit driven 
Under the eaves of heaven, 
And canst expand thee there. 

And breathe enough of air. 

Even beyond the West 

Thou migratest 

Into unclouded tracts, 

Without a pilgrim's axe. 

Cleaving thy road on high 

With thy well-tempered brow. 

And mak'st thyself a clearing in the sky. 



102 POEMS OF NATURE 

Upholding heaven, holding down earth, 

Thy pastime from thy birth, 

Not steadied by the one, nor leaning on the 

other ; — 
May I approve myself thy worthy brother ! 



I 



THE RESPECTABLE FOLKS 

The respectable folks, — 

Where dwell they ? 

They whisper in the oaks, 

And they sigh in the hay ; 

Summer and winter, night and day. 

Out on the meadow, there dwell they. 

They never die. 

Nor snivel, nor cry. 

Nor ask our pity 

With a wet eye, 

A sound estate they ever mend, 

To every asker readily lend ; 

To the ocean wealth, 

To the meadow health, 

103 



104 POEMS OF NATURE 

To Time his length, 

To the rocks strength, 

To the stars light, 

To the weary night, 

To the busy day. 

To the idle play ; 

And so their good cheer never ends. 

For all are their debtors, and all their friends. 



/ 



POVERTY 



A FRAGMENT 



If I am poor, 
It is that I am proud ; 
If God has made me naked and a boor, 
He did not think it fit his work to shroud. 



The poor man comes direct from heaven to 
earth. 

As stars drop down the sky, and tropic beams ; 
The rich receives in our gross air his birth. 

As from low suns are slanted golden gleams. 

105 



io6 POEMS OF NATURE 

Yon sun is naked, bare of satellite, 

Unless our earth and moon that office hold ; 

Though his perpetual day feareth no night, 
And his perennial summer dreads no cold. 

Mankind may delve, but cannot my wealth 
spend ; 

If I no partial wealth appropriate, 
No armed ships unto the Indies send, 

None robs me of my Orient estate. 



CONSCIENCE 

Conscience is instinct bred in the house, 

Feeling and Thinking propagate the sin 

By an unnatural breeding in and in. 

I say, Turn it out doors, 

Into the moors. 

I love a life whose plot is simple, 

And does not thicken with every pimple, 

A soul so sound no sickly conscience binds it. 

That makes the universe no worse than 't finds it. 

I love an earnest soul. 

Whose mighty joy and sorrow 

Are not drowned in a bowl, 

And brought to life to-morrow ; 

107 



io8 POEMS OF NATURE 

That lives one tragedy, 

And not seventy ; 

A conscience worth keeping, 

Laughing not weeping ; 

A conscience wise and steady, 

And for ever ready ; 

Not changing with events, 

Dealing in compliments ; 

A conscience exercised about 

Large things, where one may doubt. 

I love a soul not all of wood, 

Predestinated to be good, 

But true to the backbone 

Unto itself alone. 

And false to none ; 

Born to its own affairs, 

Its own joys and own cares ; 



CONSCIENCE 109 

By whom the work which God begun 

Is finished, and not undone ; 

Taken up where he left off, 

Whether to worship or to scoff ; 

If not good, why then evil. 

If not good god, good devil. 

Goodness ! — you hypocrite, come out of that. 

Live your life, do your work, then take your hat. 

I have no patience towards 

Such conscientious cowards. 

Give me simple laboring folk. 

Who love their work. 

Whose virtue is a song 

To cheer God along. 



PILGRIMS 

* Have you not seen 

In ancient times 
Pilgrims pass by 

Toward other climes ? 
With shining faces, 

Youthful and strong, 
Mounting this hill 

With speech and with song ? 

* Ah, my good sir, 

I know not those ways : 
Little my knowledge, 
Tho' many my days. 



110 



PILGRIMS III 

When I have slumbered, 

I have heard sounds 
As of travellers passing 

These my grounds : 

' 'Twas a sweet music 

Wafted them by, 
I could not tell 

If afar off or nigh. 
Unless I dreamed it, 

This was of yore : 
I never told it 

To mortal before ; 

' Never remembered 
But in my dreams, 
What to me waking 
A miracle seems.' 



THE DEPARTURE 

In this roadstead I have ridden, 
In this covert I have hidden ; 
Friendly thoughts were cliffs to me, 
And I hid beneath their lea. 

This true people took the stranger. 
And warm-hearted housed the ranger ; 
They received their roving guest, ^• 

And have fed him with the best ; 

Whatsoe'er the land afforded 
To the stranger's wish accorded ; 

112 



THE DEPARTURE 113 

Shook the olive, stripped the vine, 
And expressed the strengthening wine. 

And by night they did spread o'er him 
What by day they spread before him ; — 
That good-will which was repast 
Was his covering at last. 

The stranger moored him to their pier 
Without anxiety or fear ; 
By day he walked the sloping land, 
By night the gentle heavens he scanned. 

When first his barque stood inland 

To the coast of that far Finland, 

Sweet-watered brooks came tumbling to the shore 

The weary mariner to restore. 

H 



114 POEMS OF NATURE 

And still he stayed from day to day, 
If he their kindness might repay ; 

But more and more 
The sullen waves came rolling toward the shore. 



And still the more the stranger waited, 



The less his argosy was freighted, 
And still the more he stayed. 
The less his debt was paid. 

So he unfurled his shrouded mast 
To receive the fragrant blast ; 
And that same refreshing gale 
Which had wooed him to remain 

Again and again, 
It was that filled his sail 

And drove him to the main. 



THE DEPARTURE 

All day the low-hung clouds 

Dropt tears into the sea ; 
And the wind amid the shrouds 
Sighed plaintively. 



INDEPENDENCE^ 

My life more civil is and free 
Than any civil polity. 

Ye princes, keep your realms 
And circumscribM power, 

Not wide as are my dreams. 
Nor rich as is this hour. 

What can ye give which I have not ? 
What can ye take which I have got ? 

Can ye defend the dangerless ? 

Can ye inherit nakedness ? 

1 First printed in full in the Bostoft Commonwealth, October 30, 

1863. The last fourteen lines had appeared in the Dial under the 

title of * The Black Knight,' and are so reprinted in the Riverside 

Edition. 

116 



INDEPENDENCE 117 

To all true wants Time's ear is deaf, 
Penurious States lend no relief 

Out of their pelf: 
But a free soul — thank God — 

Can help itself 

Be sure your fate 
Doth keep apart its state, — 
Not linked with any band, 
Even the noblest in the land, — 

In tented fields with cloth of gold 

No place doth hold, 
But is more chivalrous than they are, 

And sigheth for a nobler war ; 

A finer strain its trumpet rings, 

A brighter gleam its armor flings. 



uS POEMS OF NATURE 

The life that I aspire to live, 
No man proposeth me ; 

No trade upon the street ^ 
Wears its emblazonry. 

^ In the Dial this line runs, * Only the promise of my heart. 



DING DONGi 

When the world grows old by the chimney-side, 
Then forth to the youngling nooks I glide, 
Where over the water and over the land 
The bells are booming on either hand. 

Now up they go ding, then down again dong, 
And awhile they ring to the same old song, 
For the metal goes round at a single bound, 
A-cutting the fields with its measured sound, 
While the tired tongue falls with a lengthened 

boom 
As solemn and loud as the crack of doom. 



^ A copy of this hitherto unpublished poem has been kindly 
furnished by Miss A. J. Ward. 

119 



120 POEMS OF NATURE 

Then changed is their measure to tone upon tone, 
And seldom it is that one sound comes alone, 
For they ring out their peals in a mingled throng. 
And the breezes waft the loud ding-dong along. 

When the echo hath reached me in this lone vale, 
I am straightway a hero in coat of mail, 
I tug at my belt and I march on my post, 
And feel myself more than a match for a host. 



MY PRAYER 

Great God, I ask thee for no meaner pelf 
Than that I may not disappoint myself ; 
That in my action I may soar as high 
As I can now discern with this clear eye. 

And next in value, which thy kindness lends, 
That I may greatly disappoint my friends, 
Howe'er they think or hope that it may be, 
They may not dream how thou 'st distinguished 
me. 

That my weak hand may equal my firm faith, 
And my life practise more than my tongue saith ; 

121 



POEMS OF NATURE 

That my low conduct may not show, 

Nor my relenting lines, 
That I thy purpose did not know. 

Or overrated thy designs. 



Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to Her Majesty 
at the Edinburgh University Press 




CATALOGUE^PUBLICATIONS 

i^BELLES LETTRES2^«^ZS^ 



1895. 

List of Books 

IN 

BELLES LETT RES 

{^Including so?)ie Transfers) 

Published by John Lane 

VIGO STREET, LONDON, W. 

N. B. — The A uthors atid Publisher reserve the right of reprinting 
any book in this list if a new edition is called for, except in cases 
■where a stiptilation has been made to the contrary, and of printing 
a separate edition of any of the books for America irrespective of the 
numbers to which the English editions are limited. The numbers 
mentioned do not include copies sent to the public libraries, nor those 
sent for review. 

Most of the books are published simultaneously in England and 
America, and in ma7iy instances the names of the American 
Publishers are appended. 



ADAMS (FRANCIS). 

Essays in Modernity. Crown 8vo. 5s. net. [Shortly. 

Chicago : Stone & Kimball. 
A Child of the Age. {See Keynotes Series.) 

ALLEN (GRANT). 

The Lower Slopes : A Volume of Verse. With Title- 
page and Cover Design by J. Illingworth Kay. 
600 copies. Crown 8vo. 5s. net. 
Chicago : Stone & Kimball. 
The Woman Who Did. {See Keynotes Series.) 
The British Barbarians. {See Keynotes Series.) 

BAILEY (JOHN C). 

An Anthology of English Elegies. [In preparation. 



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BEARDSLEY (AUBREY). 

The Story of Venus and Tannhauser, in which is set 
forth an exact account of the Manner of State held by 
Madam Venus, Goddess and Meretrix, under the 
famous Horselberg, and containing the adventures of 
Tannhauser in that place, his repentance, his jour- 
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By Aubrey Beardsley. With 20 full-page illus- 
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same hand. Sq. i6mo. ios.6d.net. \^In preparation. 

BEDDOES (T. L.). 

See Gosse (Edmund). 

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In a Garden ; Poems. With Title-page designed by 
Roger Fry. Crown 8vo. 5s. net. 
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Lyrics, Fcap. 8vo. , buckram. 5s. net. 
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Suppressed Chapters and other Bookishness. 
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BUCHAN (JOHN). 

MusA PiscATRix. \In preparation. 

CAMPBELL (GERALD). 

The Joneses and the Asterisks. {See Mayfair Set. ) 

CASE (ROBERT). 

An Anthology of English Epithalamies. 

\In preparation. 
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My Little Lady Anne. {See Pierrot's Library.) 

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See Stevenson (Robert Louis). 

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The Sacrifice of Fools: A Novel. Crown 8vo. 
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Monochromes. {See Keynotes Series.) 

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Poems, Dramatic and Lyrical. By John Leicester 
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DOSTOIEVSKY (F.). 

See Keynotes Series, Vol. iii. 

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■ See Lynch (Hannah). 

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Dante, Petrarch, Camoens, cxxiv Sonnets, rendered 
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A Lawyer's Wife : A Novel. Crown 8vo. 4s. 6d. 
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Pagan Papers : A Volume of Essays. With Title- 
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HANSSON (OLA). See Egerton. 

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Grey Roses. (6"^?^ Keynotes Series.) 



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Ballads of Boy and Beak. With a Title-page by F. H. 
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KEYNOTES SERIES. 

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\_Seventh edition now ready. 

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Vol. in. Poor Folk. Translated from the Russian of 

F. Dostoievsky by Lena Milman. With 

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Vol. IV. A Child of the Age. By Francis Adams. 

Vol. V. The Great God Pan and The Inmost 

Light. By Arthur Machen. 

[Second edition now ready. 
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\Fotirth edition now ready. 
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Vol. XL At THE First Corner AND Other Stories. 

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Dix. 
Vol. XV. The Mirror of Music. By Stanley V. 

Makower. 
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Dawe. 
Vol. XVII. The Mountain Lovers. By Fiona 

Macleod. 
Vol. XVIII. The Woman Who Didn't. By Victoria 
Crosse. 

The following are in rapid preparation. 

Vol. XIX. The Three Impostors. By Arthur 

Machen. 
Vol. XX. Nobody's Fault. By Netta Syrett. 



JOHN LANE 



KEYNOTES SY.KlY.S—coniinued. 

Vol. XXI. The British Barbarians. By Grant 

Allen. 
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Vol. XXV. Orange and Green. By Caldwell 

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KING (MAUDE EGERTON). 

Round about a Brighton Coach Office. With 
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We'ighed in the Balance: A Novel. Crown 8vo. 
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See Stoddart. 

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Verses. 250 copies. Fcap. 8vo, 3s. net. 

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Prose Fancies. With Portrait of the Author by 
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English Poems. Fourth Edition, revised. Crown Svo. 
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LE GALLIENNE (RICHARD). 

Retrospective Reviews, A Literary Log, 1891-1895. 
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New York : Dodd, Mead & Co. \_In preparation. 
George Meredith: Some Characteristics. With a Biblio- 
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LIPSETT (CALDWELL). 

Orange and Green. (5^,? Keynotes Series.) 
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Women's Tragedies. {See Keynotes Series.) 
LUCAS (WINIFRED). 

A Volume of Poems. Fcap. Svo. 4s. 6d. net. 

\In preparation. 
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The Great Galeoto and Folly or Saintliness. Two 
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The Great God Pan. {See Keynotes Series.) 
The Three Impostors. (5^^ Keynotes Series.) 
MACLEOD (FIONA). 

The Mountain Lovers. {See Keynotes Series.) 
MAKOWER (STANLEY V.). 

The Mirror of Music. {See Keynotes Series.) 
MARZIALS (THEO.). 

The Gallery of Pigeons and Other Poems. Post 
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Transferred by the Author to the present Publisher. 

MATHEW (FRANK). 

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Vol. II. The Joneses and the Asterisks. A Story 
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Philistia. By Harold Frederic. 
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The First Published Portrait of this Author, 
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Dostoievsky's Poor Folk, (i",?^ Keynotes Series.) 
MONKHOUSE (ALLAN). 

Books and Plays : A Volume of Essays on Meredith, 
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Philadelphia : J. B. Lippincott Co. 
MOORE (GEORGE). 

See Keynotes Series, Vol. iii. 



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A Pomander of Verse. With a Title-page and Cover 
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Chicago : A. C. APClurg & Co. 
In Homespun. (6"^,? Keynotes Series.) 
NETTLESHIP (J. T.). 

Robert Browning : Essays and Thoughts. Third 
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The Sonnet in England and Other Essays. Title- 
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O'SHAUGHNESSY (ARTHUR). 

His Life and His Work. With Selections from his 
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OXFORD CHARACTERS. 

A series of lithographed portraits by Will Rothenstein, 
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The Feasts of Autolycus. {See Mayfair Set.) 
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Posies out of Rings. Sq. i6mo. 3s. 6d. net. 

[In preparation. 
PIERROT'S LIBRARY. 

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The following are in preparation. 
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Vol. II. My Little Lady Anne. By Mrs. Egerton 

Castle. 
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H. DE Vere Stacpoole. 



JOHN LANE 15 



PIERROT'S LIBRARY— continued. 

Vol. IV. Simplicity. By A. T. G. Price. 
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RADFORD (DOLLIE). 

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RAMSDEN (HERMIONE). 
See Hansson. 

RICKETTS (C. S.)and C. H. SHANNON. 

Hero and Leander. By Christopher Marlowe 
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RHYS (ERNEST). 

A London Rose and Other Rhymes. With Title-page 
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New York : Dodd, Mead & Co. 
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Essays towards a Critical Method. (New Series.) 
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The Little Flowers of St. Francis : A new ren- 
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At the Relton Arms. (vS'^-e Keynotes Series.) 

SHIEL (M. P.). 

Prince Zaleski. {See Keynotes Series.) 

SMITH (JOHN). 

Platonic Affections. {^See Keynotes Series.) 

STACPOOLE (H. DE VERE). 

Pierrot : a Story. {See Pierrot's Library.) 
Death, the Knight, and the Lady. {See Pierrot's 
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STEVENSON (ROBERT LOUIS). 

Prince Otto. A Rendering in French by Egerton 
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Also 100 copies on large paper, uniform in size with the Edinburgh 
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A Child's Garden of Verses. With nearly 100 Illus- 
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STODDART (THOS. TOD). 

The Death Wake. With an Introduction by Andrew 
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Chicago : Way & Williams. 

STREET (G. S.). 

The Autobiography of a Boy. (5".?^ Mayfair Set.) 

New York : The Merriam Co. 
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Transferred by the Author to the present PublisJier. 
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SWETTENHAM (F. A.). 

Malay Sketches. With a Title-page and Cover Design 
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SYRETT (NETTA). 

Nobody's Fault. (&<? Keynotes Series.) 

TABB (JOHN B.). 

Poems. Sq. 32mo. 4s. 6d. net. 
Boston : Copeland & Day. 



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TAYLOR (UNA). 

Nets for the Wind. (■5'^<? Keynotes Series.) 
TENNYSON (FREDERICK). 

Poems of the Day and Year. With a Title-page 
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A Complete Bibliography of the Art of Fence, 
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Boston : Copeland & Day. 
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THOREAU (HENRY DAVID). 

Poems of Nature. Selected and edited by Henry S. 

Salt and Frank B. Sanborn, with a Title-page 

designed by Patten Wilson. Fcap. 8vo. 4s. 6d. 

net. [/;/ preparation. 

Boston and New York : Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 

TYNAN HINKSON (KATHARINE). 

Cuckoo Songs. With Title-page and Cover Design by 
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Vespertilia and other Poems. With a Title-page de- 
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Chicago : Way & Williams, 
A Summer Night and Other Poems. New Edition. 
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Chicago : Way & Williams. \In preparation. 

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The King's Highway. Crown 8vo. 4s. 6d. net. 

* [/;z preparation. 

At the First Corner. {^See Keynotes Series.) 



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WATSON (WILLIAM). 

Odes and Other Poems. Fourth Edition. Fcap. 8vo, 
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New York": Macmillan & Co. 
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WATT (FRANCIS). 

The Law's Lumber Room. Fcap. 8vo. 3s, 6d. net. 
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WATTS (THEODORE). 

Poems. Crown 8vo. 5s. net. \^In preparation. 

There zvill also be an Edition de Luxe oj this volutne printed at 
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WELLS (H. G.). 

Select Conversations with an Uncle. {See 
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WHARTON (H. T.). 

Sappho. Memoir, Text, Selected Renderings, and a 
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THE YELLOW BOOK 

An Illustrated Quarterly 
Pott dfto. 5^-. net. 
Vol. I. April 1894, 272 pp., 15 Illustrations. 

\Oiit of print. 
Vol. II. July 1894, 364 pp., 23 Illustrations. 
Vol. III. October 1894, 280 pp., 15 Illustrations. 
Vol. IV. January 1895, 285 pp., 16 Illustrations. 
Vol. V. April 1895, 317 pp., 14 Illustrations. 
Vol. VI. July 1895, 335 pp., 16 Illustrations. 
Boston : Copeland & Day. 

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